Combined ambiguous losses

To supporters and professionals

When supporting those who have been experiencing ambiguous loss, it may be important to sort out just “what the person has lost”.


For example, let’s say one is forced to evacuate from their hometown due to a nuclear accident. What has that person lost?

You might consider the following.

  • He/She lost the house they were living in.
  • He/She lost the family’s peaceful company in the house where he/she used to live.
  • He/She lost his/her garden, which he/she had so carefully cultivated.
  • He/She lost their neighbors who they used to casually chat with.
  • He/She lost a life in which he/she lived with his/her family and felt a sense of satisfaction and happiness.


There may be much more.


Dr. Boss says, “People can’t grieve until they are clear about what they have lost. Working with them to identify the numerous losses they have experienced may cause them stress, but it can conversely lighten their burden and reduce that stress. Through such work, professionals and supporters are able to work through their grief.